In the well-known Brothers Grimm fairy-tale, little Hansel and Gretel are abandoned in the forest by their parents. However by leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind them the two children intend to find their way out of the forest and safely back home again*.
These clever navigational ‘trails’ show the visitor where in the website they are, as well as marking out the way back to the home page.
Breadcrumbs give an immediate sense of content hierarchy and allow visitors to backtrack through the site without having to rely on a browser’s back button.
In the example to the right, taken from AT Johnson’s website, the unobtrusive breadcrumb trail clearly shows the steps back to the home page as:
Home > Electric Power Tools > Polishers > Cordless Accessories
*Perhaps breadcrumbs should actually be called pebbles. In the original fairy-tale Hansel and Gretel get home safely when they lay a trail of white pebbles, however have less luck when they try to repeat the trick with breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are eaten by hungry birds and the children remain lost!